Body proportions for the facilitation of walking, running and flying: the case of partridges

Nadal, Jesús; Ponz, Carolina; Margalida, Antoni (2018). Body proportions for the facilitation of walking, running and flying: the case of partridges. BMC evolutionary biology, 18(1), p. 176. BioMed Central 10.1186/s12862-018-1295-x

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Background: Predation is one of the most important natural selection forces. Prey species can optimize feeding behavior and escape from predators based on mobility conditioned by body proportions. With age, mobility capacity increases and individuals are more efficient in finding resources and safety (e.g., food and refuge). Birds’ mobility is driven by the dimensions, of the head and torso, as well as the extremities and flight feathers. To assess the relationship between body traits and to understand how body proportions are organized in wild Red-legged partridges (Alectoris rufa), we used biometric data from nearly 14,000 individuals, obtained during a long-term study (1988–2011) on a wild population.
Results: We used GLMs and regressions to model the relationship between body mass and the size of body parts. We found that wing length was the morphological part best explained by other body trait measures. Wing length models were better predictors in juveniles than in adults and in females than in males. Wing length and feather length, mass and total length are the most strongly related parts; mass and wing length, total length and feather length are moderately related. The association between mass and wing length is intermediated by feather length and total length.
Conclusions: Social inclusion, feeding and predator evasion may be affected by body structure intermediated by mobility and health. Our results suggest that proportions of the body, extremities and flight feathers drive mobility which is intimately associated with ecology, biological efficiency, health and physical optimization. Our findings showed that wing size was strongly allied to other body part measurements, enhancing the importance of body structure conformation for flight. Our study highlights the scaled relationship of body structure among age-sex classes and its relevance to social cohesion, flock movement and the balance between predation and starvation.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE) > Conservation Biology

UniBE Contributor:

Margalida, Antoni


500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
500 Science > 590 Animals (Zoology)




BioMed Central




Olivier Roth

Date Deposited:

05 Jun 2019 12:57

Last Modified:

24 Oct 2019 19:36

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:





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